Sunny summer days, daydreaming, dancing in the moonlight and cocktails on the beach are great for a couple of months but it’s time to let autumn fall on you. Let September start by immersing yourself in these three releases.
Ben Frost – The Centre Cannot Hold
Ben Frost, for those of you who don’t know, is an Australian composer and producer. He resides blissfully isolated in a 150-year-old wooden house in Reykjavik, Iceland, and has become fluent in Icelandic over the past decade. I dare you to try and tie him to a genre; with influences from classic minimalism to punk rock, black metal and soundscapes it really is an aural explosion. If you’re a fan of the show Fortitude you may be familiar with his style as he composed the soundtrack.
His new album, titled The Centre Cannot Hold was recorded in Chicago with the one and only Steve Albini (Nirvana, Mogwai) and it really is something to get excited about. It’ll be out on September 29th via Mute. If you can’t wait that long, check out the video for the opening track ‘Threshold Of Faith’ – a piece of art in itself, having been shot by cinematographer Trevor Tweeten and conceptual photographer Richard Moss in Iceland.
Because there is nothing quite like hearing it live , you can catch Ben on his European tour beginning at the end of September. Be sure to expect an almost suffocation (in a good way) as the music takes over you and fills up the room. It’s as much of a visual experience as a sonic one.
The National – Sleep Well, Beast
September 8th really isn’t far away now, bringing the release of The National’s Sleep Well Beast, their seventh studio album. If one album describes the season for me, it’s this. For those who want to hibernate buried in autumn leaves, this is by far the most melancholy National release. Bleak and beautiful, The National’s sound has reached some kind of higher maturity through a darkness and loss of hope.
In contrast to 2013’s Trouble Will Find Me, which summons optimism and a beautiful orchestral balance, Sleep Well Beast relies heavily on synthesizers. Matt’s vocals somehow seem quieter than ever, as if drowning and defeated. This album truly marries the everyday politics of the home with the current political climate in America and the wider world, putting them under the same roof with a compression that doesn’t weight either as greater than the other. Tangled in lyrics of a broken marriage, self- pity and a hopeless society, there’s nothing more real than the emotion in the vocals. When talking about the lyrics, Matt has said that although he is happily married, marriage is hard, and together with his wife they write about the small struggles and how the writing together in turn saves their marriage. It is about showing the consequences of not acting upon or working through problems. This smaller reflection has no walls. It’s hard to sleep well in this questionable time, perhaps a dark form of humour set in the title. This truly is the biggest departure from the genre we expect from The National, but one we accept with open arms. Release the beast!
Deerhoof – Mountain Moves
Deerhoof’s fourteenth studio album (impressive right?) Mountain Moves is technically released on September 8th but you can actually download it on Bandcamp right now. It is available on a pay-what-you-want basis with 100% of the proceeds generously donated to the Emergent Fund. They are a grassroots non-profit that provides resources to communities of colour who are facing discrimination in the Trump era.
The new album has everything about Deerhoof that you love; a continuation of the old with a twist of something new. Twenty years of music-making have defined this band and this album is full of collaboration, dream-pop and still plenty of weird and wonderful elements where the band truly show they can walk across any musical path and make it their own. Mountain Moves makes me purely happy with its energetic and experimental take on a collision of indie rock/prog/noise/pop and God knows what else. You’re really in for a treat! Download the album for that autumn uplift and feel good about the cause.